• Handling Breakups

Ending A Friendship Nicely

Published: June 12, 2013 | Last Updated: August 22, 2022 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
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Ending a friendship nicely is never easy. But friendships are voluntary relationships. When one doesn’t seem to be working, you owe it to yourself to end it.


Hi Irene,

I am writing for help with ending a friendship nicely. I met a friend at a playground three years ago and the friendship started because she was moving to the area and we both had sons the same age.

I thought because we were living very close to each other, it would be fun to develop a friendship, have play dates, and maybe babysit for each other.

The issues I have are these:

Any chance this friend gets she brags or one-ups you—except it’s more like she 40-ups you. She’s done everything, has everything—bigger, better, and faster. Her son has to do everything first. It is a constant competition that no one cares about but her! When you leave, you just end up feeling bad.

As I have tried to extricate myself, twice, she has found out about a kid’s activity we were doing and signed her kid up acting like she had no idea we had signed up, too, although it was obvious we hadn’t invited them to join us. I hate doing that but her kid is spoiled, volatile, and somewhat of a bully. It’s an effort to have him join in and have the group behavior go smoothly.

Luckily, they won’t be going to the same school but just in case she changes her mind and tries to follow my son again I am considering making a request to the principal. I do not want to be “stalked.”

The other thing is that since she is so persistent in her efforts that her 5-year-old has everything and does everything first. These choices she has made that I think are not the wisest nor safest for her child. They involve dangerous machinery and most likely her son pressured the parents into letting him use/ride these types of machines. I don’t want my son to have anything to do with these activities. I flat out told her these weren’t good decisions.

I feel bad because I know she just doesn’t have the social skills and most likely has low self-esteem. For instance, even though she brags about how she never wants for money, she will always “split the bill” or keep tabs on whose turn it is to treat. To me that is ridiculous. My friends and I always just treat each other, no questions asked. I’ve taken my friends on trips before, paid for the hotel and everything. But for someone who loves to brag that they have it all, to end up being so cheap really irks me. Then when she met another friend whose husband was laid off all she could talk about were her trips around the world—clearly, a lack of tact and sensitivity.

How do I get out of this? I had hoped for a change or realization from her but so far she is oblivious to the social “cues.” She is leaving for a few months and I am thinking this would be a good chance to create more distance. My son would not miss the relationship at all.

She does have redeeming qualities but I have had my fill of the energy drain. Do I owe an honest explanation or just put it off on “we can’t be the kind of friends they need us to be?”

Signed, Rachel


Hi Rachel,

It’s understandable why and how this friendship started. Many young moms make friends for the sake of their children as much as for themselves. However, with time, you realized that this friendship made you uncomfortable for a variety of reasons having to do with both you and your son.

So it’s understandable, too, that you would want to end this friendship. Fortunately, with children this young who are not in the same school or playgroup, you have total control over whom they befriend and spend time with.

How do you break it off? What are some tips for ending a friendship nicely?

You’ve said that this woman is insecure, competitive, and insensitive—and you don’t want your child hanging around hers. Since you do have friends in common and live in the same neighborhood, I would suggest that you dilute the relationship rather than end it totally.

  • Don’t make any playdates with her for your son.
  • Don’t make plans to see this woman one-on-one.
  • Be friendly and pleasant when you see her in groups with mutual friends. While you don’t want to be friends, you do want to stay on good terms.
  • If she initiates get-togethers with you or with you and the kids, tell her you are busy or any other white lie that feels comfortable for you.
  • Since you think she has a problem with social cues, be firm and consistent.

Ending a friendship nicely is never easy. But friendships are voluntary relationships and you should not remain friends with someone whose company you don’t enjoy. You have no obligation to “make her over” nor would she welcome this from you.

Moreover, other people may find her behavior far more tolerable than you do.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

Also on The Friendship Blog:

Friendship: For the sake of the children?



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Category: How to break up

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  1. Ending a long term friendship : The Friendship Blog | May 29, 2016
  1. Ashley says:

    Hi My name is Ashley. I have a friend called Jessica.Jessica had been leaving me out and push me away if she was talking to someone else.Jessica and i were been together since 1 grade and now were 6th grade.I don’t know why but since she starting to watch youtube Creepypasta if you don’t know what a creepypasta is..creepypasta is a scary,crazy,insane killers and the people makes a story about it etc…Anyways I just want to know whats the problem about me and jessica


  2. Amy says:

    I love Irene’s advice about changing your friendship to more of an acquaintance relationship, since you live in the same neighborhood and have children of similar ages. Overtly ending the friendship could cause problems for both you and your child, since your lives will likely intersect over many years.
    You need to be assertive, firm and consistent with your boundaries, which I don’t think you’ve yet done. You’ve expected her to pick up on cues, but people aren’t mind readers. I think talking to the principal is a bad idea, because like it or not, teachers and school personnel talk and you don’t want to start off with a reputation before your son starts school. I don’t see an upside to such a discussion since this friend isn’t actually”stalking” you unless you’ve given her explicit boundaries that she’s disregarded. You’ll both meet other parents of kids your sons’ ages once they start school and she might naturally gravitate to more like minded women.

    Children respond better to positive reinforcement than negative, so I’d monitor the kids more closely and take every opportunity you can to praise this boy when you catch him doing something right. “I like how you’re sharing so well today, Johnny, thank you.”

    Think of this a good practice, as you’ll likely encounter other parents and children who aren’t your first choice in friends over the next 13 years. Assertiveness and boundaries are two tools that will serve you well with people like this friend.

  3. HeatherL says:

    This is great advice, Irene. It’s so awkward to have to end a friendship. But sometimes it’s best for both of you.

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